Towards the bursting of the bubble in football business?

Will the coronavirus pandemic change the ways of professional football? “Yes”, say some experts, but only in the short term if there is not the establishment of a regulation to control inflation at work during the last decade.

Will the coronavirus pandemic change the ways of professional football? “Yes”, say some experts, but only in the short term if there is not the establishment of a regulation to control inflation at work during the last decade.

(AFP) – The next “transfer of the century” will still wait. Without buyers, the nuggets Kylian Mbappé (21), Jadon Sancho (20) or Erling Haaland (19), main candidates to beat Neymar’s record (222 million euros in 2017), are likely to remain this been in Paris and Dortmund … unless an unlikely discount transaction.

“For one simple reason: clubs will have big cash flow problems. With the uncertainty over TV rights and sponsorship income, it will become very complicated to commit to very large purchases, particularly in England and Spain, championships that have drawn the market in recent years “, explains Jean-Pascal Gayant , sports economist. “Pay 100 million euros for a player next season, nobody thinks of it in Spain”, supports his counterpart Fernando Lara, professor at the University of Navarre.

Buoyed by the madness of summer 2017, the overall amount of transactions increased from 2.66 billion dollars in 2012 to 7.35 billion in 2019, according to the TMS report of Fifa. A figure almost multiplied by three in the space of seven years. “The sums will not be able to remain at the current level in the next two or three years, because all the countries are affected,” adds Uli Hoeness, the former president of Bayern Munich.

“Domino effect”

According to a study by the Center International d’Etude du Sport de Neuchâtel, the health crisis, which caused the interruption of competitions, could therefore lead to a 28% drop in the transfer value of players from the five major European championships, going from 32.7 to 23.4 billion euros. For example, PSG would see its workforce devalued by 302 million euros (-31.4%), Real Madrid by 350 million euros (-31.8%) and FC Barcelona by 366 million ‘euros (-31.3%) in the worst case scenario.

What cause a sharp slowdown in the market for “top players”, in turn leading to a “domino effect” on the other segments “from intermediate to more basic players”, say several market players. Main victims of the drying up of this “runoff”? The championships of countries such as Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands or France which have bet on an economic model based on “player trading” thanks to an effective training policy.

Maybe we can take advantage of the crisis to reform football

According to a report by the financial gendarme of French football, half of Ligue 1 clubs have, for example, made capital gains of more than 20 million euros thanks to transfers, during the 2018-2019 season. For teams like Monaco or Marseille, who were counting on sales this summer to trim an XXL payroll, the prospect of a sluggish transfer window is very bad news.

“The coronavirus does not help us in our sales process,” admits AS Monaco vice-president Oleg Petrov. “Given the international situation, a club will be less inclined to pay the amount we want.”

Simple parenthesis?

Worried in the long term? “When football takes the lead again, we will come back to this inflation with ever higher wages, ever more expensive changes. I do not think that this considerably challenges the system, ”says Jean-Pascal Gayant. “One of the reasons is that I don’t think there is the possibility of the existence of global or supranational regulation to do otherwise. And Brexit has further reduced this possibility in Europe, ”he adds.

“Luxury tax” on over-spending clubs, limitation of agents’ commissions … In an attempt to stem the incredible surge in salaries and transfer prices, bodies such as Fifa and UEFA are considering new instruments, without yet taking action. Certainly financial fair play, a control body set up by the European confederation in 2011, has made it possible to clean up the accounts of the clubs. But he “will probably have to adapt to a different time,” conceded UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin in early March, faced with his inability to prevent the concentration of talent in the biggest clubs.

“Perhaps we can take advantage (of the crisis) to reform football by taking a step back,” said Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, in an interview at the end of March. La Gazzetta dello Sport. The announcement of major changes to come?


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